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Twinkies ovens will fire up in 4 plants, refilling shelves

Published April 26, 2013 8:35 pm

Food • Slowly, investors by buying up Hostess bakeries shuttered by liquidation.
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Junk food junkie alert. Look for Twinkies on store shelves in July.

Four former Hostess snack cake bakeries around the country, are scheduled to re-open within eight to 10 weeks.

An investment group, which bought assets and rights to several products after Hostess Brands Inc. liquidated last year, confirmed this week that bakeries in Emporia, Kan.; Columbus, Ga.; Schiller Park, Ill.; and Indianapolis will begin hiring soon.

The investor partnership of Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC paid $410 million for the bakeries and rights and to make Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Donettes, Zingers, Suzy Qs, Mini Muffins and Hostess Cup Cakes. The sale was supervised by a bankruptcy court after Hostess Brands Inc. filed for liquidation.

Prior to shutting down, Hostess employed about 600 people in Utah at two bakeries, nearly a dozen retail stores and nine depots. Those bakeries remain closed.

Lead investor C. Dean Metropoulos told The Wall Street Journal that the partnership intends to pour $60 million more in capital investments into four, perhaps five, plants and hire 1,500 workers to staff them.

The four plants, possibly plus one more in Los Angeles, were among 11 former Hostess bakeries acquired by Metropoulos and Apollo. The investors believe the re-opened plants can be run more efficiently and turn out as much product as the previous 11.

About 500 people lost their jobs at the Emporia bakery when Hostess Brands Inc. shut down the plant in bankruptcy last year. The new owners, doing business as a new company, Hostess Brands LLC, said that the plant will hire 250 initially and about 50 more as work progresses.

Michael Cramer, an executive involved in the new Hostess Brands LCC operations, said the new jobs will pay "competitive wages and benefits, and I'm sure people will be pleased."

Employees who previously worked for Hostess under union contracts may apply for the new non-union jobs, he and another job recruiter confirmed.

"Experience helps," Cramer said. "We want people who are excited about working there and are energized about it."

Previously, about 15,000 of the 18,000 former Hostess plant workers around the country were represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union or by the Teamsters.

Hostess Brands Inc., formerly Interstate Bakeries Corp., had its headquarters in Kansas City for decades before it moved some executive functions to the Dallas area after emerging from its first bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.

The company had been financially troubled for years. It filed its second bankruptcy petition in January 2012, citing issues with union contract among many of its issues.

The bakery union walked out in November after the former Hostess owners sought cuts in wages, insurance and pension benefits after union members already had agreed to a series of concessions.

Spokesmen for the national bakery union were unavailable for comment Thursday.

Hostess Brands assets were sold piecemeal to bidders in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Flowers Foods, a publicly traded baking company based in Georgia, acquired 20 Hostess bakeries that made bread and buns, including plants in Lenexa, Kan., and Boonville, Mo.

Flowers has declined to speak publicly about plans for its newly acquired bakeries because of an ongoing antitrust review by federal regulators. Flowers, which already operates 44 U.S. bakeries, expected the review, which could take several more months.

Flowers paid $360 million for the plants and rights to Wonder, Home Pride, Nature's Pride, Butternut and Merita brands.

The Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this story






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